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by Jock Duncan

Click here to listen to the song

Jock learned this masterpiece from the singing of the great John Strachan who sang it accompanying himself on concertina.

Jock: He was never bettered at this song about the hand shearin days before the reaper made short work of it. This young man's first shearin wis an unhappy experience, wages were sma and it wis a hungry place and the farmer's laws were double strict.

The song was included in Norman Buchan's influential 101 Scottish Songs published in 1962 and is in the Greig-Duncan Folk-Song Collection (GD 343) under the title Jock o Rhynie. An old man, William Forsyth, told Greig thet he 'remembered as a boy his mother sing Jock o Rhynie and this would take the song back to say 1830.' The farmer at Mains o Rhynie (in the high glens of Auchindoir in Strathbogie about 8 miles south of Huntly) from 1830 until his death in 1851 was John Gordon and he was known as 'Jock o Rhynie' but there may have been earlier Jocks at Rhynie and the song could well be earlier. He is said to have denied his work was 'ill to work' although he admitted that Rhynie's work was 'very hard.'

Jock: Folk think o Rhynie as being 'My God, thats a wild place, there canna be much growin up there.' It's hilly and there's a lot a sheepie grun, but it's (also) some o the finest corn growin country that ever wis.

Jock never worked on Rhynie, but not long ago he and his wife Frances climbed the nearby hill Tap o Noth to look down over Rhynie.

Jock: Whit drew me to Tap o Noth wis the fine walk through the whin and up through the breem. You're gaun back 4, 5000 year because ye'd the vitrified fort on the top. And here's me standin on the top o the vitrified fort singin Rhynie, lookin doun, a beautiful sunny day, on the hairst parks o Rhynie away in the distance. And I wis thinkin o Jock

At Rhynie I sheared my first hairst,
Doun by the fit o Benachie,
Ma maister there was ill tae fit, [hard to please
But laith wis I tae loss my fee.
Linten ourin ourin addie,
Linten ourin ourin ee.

Rhynie's wark is ill tae work,
An Rhynie's wauges is bit sma,
Rhynie's laws are double strick, [i.e. very strict
And that's fit grieves me warst of aa.
Linten ourin ourin addie,
Linten ourin ourin ee.

Rhynie is a cauld clay hole,
It's nane een like ma father's toun,
Rhynie is a hungry place,
And it disnae suit a Lawland loon.
Linten ourin ourin addie,
Linten ourin ourin ee.

Sair I've focht and sair I've vrocht, [i.e. worked
Until I won my penny fee,
And I'll ging back tae the gate I cam, [i.e. the way I came
And a better bairnie I will be.
Linten ourin ourin addie,
Linten ourin ourin ee.

You can purchase a CD with this song at Springthyme Records

Return to Scottish Songs to Listen to


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